Oxygen molecules in deep space discovered via Herschel Telescope, a first in history (Photo)

By on Aug 2, 2011 in Astronomy, Europe, Science, World Comments

A team of scientists reportedly discovered oxygen molecules in deep space via Herschel Telescope, as shown in the photo below, which is its first discovery in the entire history of space research.

Oxygen molecules in deep space discovered
via Herschel Telescope

Image Credit: ESA/NASA/JPL-Caltech

As published at Space.com on Monday, August 1, 2011, the oxygen molecules were recently detected in the Orion star-forming complex region, about 1,500 light-years from Earth.

This first space oxygen molecules discovery was made possible through the Herschel Space Observatory of European Space Agency, and ending a nearly 230-year search journey for scientists.

Apparently, astronomers were noted to have been searching for these mysterious oxygen molecules via different tools including balloons, as well as ground and space-based telescopes.

Back in 2007, the said molecule was reportedly spotted by the Swedish Odin telescope, but unlike the recent discovery using the Herschel Telescope; it was not confirmed that time.

According to NASA, individual atoms of oxygen are common in space, particularly around massive stars and molecular oxygen is about 20 percent of the air that humans breathe.

“Oxygen gas was discovered in the 1770s, but it’s taken us more than 230 years to finally say with certainty that this very simple molecule exists in space,” NASA’s Herschel project scientist Paul Goldsmith was quoted as saying.

Goldsmith and his colleagues reportedly suggest that oxygen is actually locked up in water ice that coats tiny dust grains and was only formed back to oxygen molecules after starlight warmed the icy grains when it was detected by the Herschel Telescope.

“This explains where some of the oxygen might be hiding,” Goldsmith added, who is also the lead author of a recent article describing the findings and was published in the Astrophysical Journal.

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